Tuesday, 31 January 2012

I made it!

Today is the final day in my January Journal Challenge and the prompt was 'just letters'. Just think about it - an entire language contained within 26 letters. Amazing.

I feel great that I made it all the way through the month and didn't miss a day. The experience has been informative. I find that I (probably the same as a lot of us artists) use many of the same colour combinations and techniques. With this challenge there was pressure on to do a page a day so I tended to reach for the usual stuff unless particularly prompted not to. So I am going to take a week off from posting and immerse myself in some inspirational books. I have just bought Surface Treatment Workshop by Darlene Olivia McElroy and Sandra Duran Wilson, so I think I will spend the week with it and come back inspired and ready to try some new techniques.

See you in a week!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Round in circles

I'm posting this a bit later in the day than is my usual habit. This means that I saw an episode of Mythbusters which meshed perfectly with my journal prompt for today.

'Round in circles' was the prompt, and Adam and Jamie were investigating what happens if a person tries to move in a straight line while blindfolded and wearing earmuffs. The results were interesting. It seems that it is virtually impossible to walk, swim, or even drive in a straight line without visual and auditory cues from the landscape.

My thinking in doing my journal page was that when we go round in circles we don't get anywhere. Mythbusters made me think about it a little deeper. When we are left to our own devices, without the guidance of God, we veer off the path, walking in the wrong direction, sometimes in circles, and not reaching the goal of where we are supposed to be heading.

So is there anywhere in your life where you have put on blinders and stuffed your fingers in your ears, and are walking in circles? Are there places where you are not taking full advantage of God's guidance?

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Inspired by poetry

Today's journal page was to be inspired by a poem, so I chose this one of my own:

At His footfall
The earth gives voice
Flowers bow down
The pebbles rejoice
Lightning sings a lullaby
Thunder hims the tune
The sun bobs a curtsey
Copied by the moon
Stars applaud ecstatically
Mountains bend the knee
Sea prostrates herself, my friend
In unremitting glee
Creation can't be silenced
In the presence of the King
We, too, are His handiwork
What worship do we bring?

The green colours are to represent all things living. I used some gold and copper leafing, but it doesn't show up so well in the photos.

detail to show the leafing
the whole page

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Found poetry

If you've never given found poetry a go, it's fun to try. Simply take a magazine, flip through it fairly rapidly, cutting out any words that appeal to you. Don't think too much about it, just cut them out. When you have gone all the way through the magazine, take your words and make a poem. You don't have to use all of the words - and don't go back into the mag looking for others to match your theme, either!

I came up with this:

A couple of my close friends will laugh at this as it is so spot-on with what God is working through with me at the moment. And I didn't even realise how apt it was until I had finished and stood back from it. It's amazing what will be revealed when you let yourself go and let God speak.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Some good words

What do you think of when you think of 'good words'? There were a couple of ways I could have gone with this. I might have chosen words I like the sound of like bobble, blancmange, or hullabaloo. I instead went down the route of words that express good qualities. I chose mercy, grace, and love. I have to tell you that because they are not very clear on the page. In fact, I dislike this page intensely, but that is how it goes sometimes. Everything I tried ended up making things worse. So I stopped.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Confessions of a happy housewife...

When my prompt for today said 'found image' it sent me running for my stash of postcards and clippings. I found this one in a 50s style and liked the sentiment.

I know this is the age of feminism, women being able to do anything that a man can, 'having it all' and all that, but I like being a full-time wife-mother-housewife. I like to bake. I like to make a home that is comfortable for my family and welcoming for guests.

Women who stay at home are just as valuable as those who work. Our work is just in a different sphere.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

How's the weather?

Taken literally, this journal prompt would have produced a page that was one brilliant shade of blue all over; that blue that goes with heat. We are in a heat wave in Adelaide, although temperatures aren't in the 40s, as they can be, but in the 30s continually without chance for your house to cool down overnight. It really is energy-sapping.

But moving on...
I took the prompt to mean my own internal weather. It is good, sometimes, to check it out and reflect on why this should be so. For example, there are times when I feel cloudy, as if there is an impending thunderstorm, even when everything on the surface looks calm and beautiful. When this happens to me it is usually my hormones hijacking my usual disposition. I have to consciously remind myself that everything is not as black as it seems and that I am making something out of nothing.

So, how's your weather been lately?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012


Another single colour prompt. Blue for me is either sea or sky. I decided to go for the sea. Once I started on the page I kept coming back to swimming with or against the flow. Will I go with the flow or stand out from the crowd by being different? How different am I prepared to be? And in what ways? A lot to think about.

And for those of you who would have gone with 'sky' here is a picture of it from yesterday.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Big fear

This is not the sort of prompt you want to come up to journal about when you are sharing it. However, come up it did, so here is my big fear: What if I miss the thing that God has for me to do? What if I get to heaven and He is disappointed with me? What if I fall short of what I could be?

Now, I know that God loves me. I am unshakeable in that. But we can love people and still be disappointed in them from time to time. My biggest fear is that God will feel that way about me. That I could have been so much more than I am.

It is easy to see where the fear comes in - it is in that small pronoun 'I'. When I concentrate on what I am doing instead of focussing on God, that is when I start to make mistakes, to miss things, to make unwise decisions. If I focus on God I will not  miss the things He has for me to do and to be.

I never fail to be amazed at what God reveals through a page when you just let it flow, not thinking too hard about what you are doing. If I analyse this journal page I notice that there is an underpinning of yellow, which to me is hopeful. The hope that my fear will not come to pass if only I set my sights on Him. I have also noticed, coming back to the page, that the bright yellow streaks flow in the opposite direction to all the other colours, being from top to bottom rather than side to side, perhaps showing the direction of the flow of hope - from God down to me. On top of the yellow there are brown and grey layers of the doubt that I have about myself. But the yellow shows through and cannot be obliterated by my own fear. It is the foundation of the page as it is the foundation in my life. There is also a layer of flesh tone that reflects the humanness of my fear.

Why not journal what you fear and see if you can find a way to overcome.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Guerilla art

How lovely to find a  piece of art with some encouraging words in an unexpected place. That is the idea behind these pieces of guerrilla art.

I made three bookmarks from original artwork and will leave them in books I come across this week in the hope that they will touch somebody in a way that is meaningful.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Someone else's words

This  prompt had me running to my miscellany book where I keep odd bits and pieces that I find interesting. Hence there are quotes, recipes, interesting fonts etc.

My eye was caught by this quote from Maya Angelou:

    You can't use up creativity. The more you use it, the more you have.

How true!

It also made me think about people who wait for the muse to strike before going to the studio to create. How much they are missing out on! This challenge to produce a new page each day during January has made me work even when I might not feel up to it. And the more I have created, the more I have enjoyed it and developed better skills. You only get better at something by practicing. So I would encourage you to create even when you are not inspired. After all, as Picasso said:
Inspiration exists but it has to find you working.

It is the same with reading the Bible. If we only read it when we feel like it, let's face it, it wouldn't happen very often. But if we make a point of sitting every day and reading just a few verses, the benefits are huge.

So set yourself a challenge, even if it is only for a week, and see how much you learn.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Who I want to be

What a thought-provoking prompt!

Who do I want to be that I am not already? What constitutes success for me?

If I took the world's view of success, I would be classed as a bit of a failure - stay-at-home mum, only ever worked part-time unless I was covering holidays, not famous or rich.

But I don't measure myself up against that. I want to be successful in God's eyes, which is a whole different ball-game. I am a faithful wife and mother, home-schoolling our daughter, serving as best I can in the church, struggling against my inner critic, battling every day against selfishness.

But the best thing is that I know that God isn't finished with me yet. I am a work in progress. If I place myself in His hands, He will mould me into everything He made me to be in the first place.

So, who do I want to be?

The best me I can be.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

How I feel today

I wanted to express how I felt without words. Here it is.

Why not give it a go yourself?

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

I am loved

"I am loved." What a comforting thing to know.

I am loved even with all my faults.

I am loved even when I don't feel it.

I am loved even though I am not yet finished.

I am loved even when I fail.

I am loved by a holy God who can see me as I truly am yet still loves me.

Thank You, LORD.

On the grid

Don't remember why I came up with this as a prompt when I was thinking up the 31 I needed to work through January, but there you go.

My first thought was a grid pattern so I laid out the background in squares and rectangles of different colours. Then my mind started to wander to the words of the prompt. What difference would it make if I was 'off the grid' rather than on it? Off the grid reminded me of not being connected to the mains electricity supply. So what powers me?

I know I couldn't function if I wasn't plugged into God's power supply. If I try to do things in my own strength I fail. I can't keep up the necessary energy. But if I am plugged in to God 'I can do all things through Him who gives me strength'.

Of course, there are still times when I need to recharge my spirit just as my body needs recharging through sleep. I do that through my quiet time, creativity, and general good principles of work/leisure balance.

So how do you stay on the grid?

Monday, 16 January 2012


Another colour prompt today. Red is my favourite colour and I have found it surprisingly difficult to find a good red ink. A lot of them are more pink than that vibrant red that I'm looking for. Still, over the years I have managed to track down a couple that are more satisfactory.

This photo doesn't truly show the red that I see on the actual page. Never mind. I had fun doing the page anyway.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

In the style of...

I have mentioned before that I occasionally do pages in the style of other artists to help me to broaden what I do, break out of a rut, or force myself to think and approach things in a different way. Today's page is in the style of Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. I watched a couple of her fast forward journalling clips and liked her style. So here is my version:

I liked the idea of a smaller focus on the page placed in a frame. I was particularly pleased with how the frame turned out.

The idea of home is a powerful one. I have moved about a fair bit since I left my childhood home, and am now about as far from where I was born as I can be. But for me home is wherever my immediate family is. Home is about being with the ones you love and who love you. Home is a place in the heart, a feeling, a comfortable place. My earthly 'home' is a pale imitation of my heavenly home - the ultimate place of rest, security, and love.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Parables book revisited

Managed to snatch some time to work on an altered book based on the parables of Jesus again today. Here are a few photos:

The wheat and the tares

The wicked tenants

The mustard seed

My Perfect Space

This prompt made me think anew about exactly how I would like my studio to be. The one I am using at the moment is great...but a little small. Don't get me wrong, it's perfect for me to work alone or with one other person. But if I want to hold retreats, art journalling classes and the like, I really need more space.

I like to use my studio for my quiet time with God as well as a creative space. The two just go together for me, so it would need to be a tranquil place. Ideally, with all the beautiful Australian sunshine, I would have one wall of windows and doors to let in light. If I'm really dreaming here I would like it to look out on to a pool so I could look at the light reflecting off the water, and when I held classes we could eat lunch outside on a paved, shaded area next to it.

What would be your perfect space?

Friday, 13 January 2012

Green is for growth

Several of the prompts I came up with for January were simply colours. Today's was 'green' and made me think of growth and planting seeds.

Everything we plant is supposed to grow - that is why we planted it in the first place, after all. But not everything does grow. Why is that? Well, sometimes we don't water the seeds enough, or we've placed it in unsuitable conditions so it doesn't thrive. Or maybe we forgot about it.

This led me to think about what we plant into others by our words and actions. What seeds have you planted lately? Were they placed into good soil? Are you going to water them? Will they grow?

Think, too, about those unfortunate things that you have planted in someone by your careless words. Will those things grow? Sometimes when we have said something that hurts someone else, they nurse it and feed it and help it to grow into a much larger 'plant' than it should be. Have you done this yourself? Consider whether you need to weed out some unhelpful seeds from yourself, or out of others, by forgiveness, and which ones you need to water and help to grow.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Back to School

It is the Australian summer and the shops are filling with stationery and other school supplies ready for the return to education at the end of the month. So as I think about a new year and its possibilities it crosses my mind that I should have something new to try to keep my creative skills growing. How can I go back to school?

Several things came to mind - take a class, teach someone else, learn a new skill, use new materials.

 Taking a class in something you already do can stretch you. It lifts you out of the rut of the way you do things and opens your mind to new alternatives.

Of course, you can also take a class in something you've always wanted to have a go at and so learn a new skill.

Teach someone else a skill that you already have. This might not seem like a 'back to school' idea, but teaching someone else gives you new eyes on how you do things. Watching someone learn makes you think about what you are doing, what the steps are, and how to pass on that joy you have.

Using materials that you don't usually use broadens your horizons, too. Like coming across something you forgot you had, it brings the bright shininess of something new to explore.

Do something in a different style. Try emulating someone whose art you admire. I don't mean a straight copy but something that captures their style; a technique they use or colours that you don't normally put together.

So, how will you go back to school with your creativity this year?

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

One day...

One day...

It's a phrase for dreams and hopes of the future. I had to think long and hard about what I saw myself doing and being 'one day' to make today's page.

What does the phrase inspire in you?

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

If my day had a headline...

For the first few hours of the day I wondered what this page was going to be about. Then I did some gardening. The war on weeds is necessary at the moment because we have just had quite a bit of rain following a long stretch of sunshine. Isn't it amazing how the weeds then grow up like mad while all the things that you deliberately planted - vegetables - don't do the same?

It seems like that with life, too. Bad habits seem to grow without any help at all, while those things we know will be good for us seem to take an awful lot of hard work and nurturing.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

sunshine and flowers

My January journal prompt for today was 'yellow' which made me think of sunshine and flowers. This page ended up being a little more busy than I anticipated. Never mind.

nurture list

Today's prompt had me thinking about what recharges my batteries. How do I nurture myself? It's well worth thinking about. If we don't fit in those things that keep us energised, how will we cope when life throws us lemons?

Saturday, 7 January 2012

January journal challenge - Use a photo

With today's prompt requiring a photo I looked through my album and found this one of an arched entrance in Wakehurst Place gardens, Ardingly, UK. It got me thinking about how there are legitimate ways to get on to the path. In this case, through the gateway and not over the wall. Are there places in your life where you have tried to get something illegitimately? Maybe that promotion you wanted but gained by putting someone else down or claiming their idea as your own.

In Matthew 7:13 Jesus says the gate is narrow to get on the road to life. It is better to take that harder way and gain a much wider reward than to sneak in and try to steal what Jesus will give freely.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Give thanks

Today's prompt had me thinking about being thankful. I remembered the verse about giving thanks always, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. Our thankfulness is not based on what is happening to us. It is based on being loved by God, saved by Jesus. No matter what we are going through, this we hold on to.

 So in all circumstances think of all the things you have to be thankful for and see if your situation doesn't look a little rosier.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The promise of spring

Today's prompt was 'brown'. Hmm, I thought.

'Brown' conjured for me bare branches of trees in winter. Being a Brit living in Australia, January should be a time of cold weather, bare trees, and dark nights. Instead I find myself in the middle of sweltering summer, bright sunshine, and greenery. Inside me, January is a time of promise  - the promise of the coming spring and new growth. The time where you batten down the hatches and rest, drawing up resources for the burst of activity to come.

So when you feel you are slowing down and not much is happening, perhaps you are in a spiritual winter. This doesn't mean that nothing is going on inside you. It simply means that you are gathering in everything you will need for the new season of growth to come. Time spent quietly now will reap its benefits later.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

I forgot I had this!

Today's prompt had me looking through my stash for things I had forgotten about. I found some mulberry paper and a couple of stamps and came up with this:

Sometimes it is good to step away from your favourite items and use something a little bit different.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Bible page 1098

When I looked up today's prompt, I found that in my Bible p1098 is Acts 3. This is where Peter and John heal the lame beggar at the Beautiful Gate at the temple. He wants alms from them. Instead he receives healing that he didn't think possible. It set me thinking about when we go to God asking for things that we think we need when really He wants to give us what we don't believe is possible - healing.

So what is there in your life that you need but don't believe is possible?

Why not ask. With God all things are possible.

Monday, 2 January 2012


The caterpillar
Following the days of fierce change
Emerges from its paper sleeping bag
A butterfly.
Unfurls creased-linen wings
slowly smoothing and expanding
But lacking space
To spread to full span
Its freedom cape
Fails to fly
And, tethered to the earth
It dies.

I wrote this poem after finding a butterfly in this state. The placement of its cocoon didn't allow enough space for its wings to expand and fill. They were left crumpled and useless.

It brought to mind the death of dreams, when we are not allowed to fully spread our wings and 'fly'. Is there anything that is hampering you from fulfilling your potential? Are you really spreading your wings and achieving flight?

things that bring joy

So, day 2 of the January journal challenge. Joy always seems yellowish to me, and swirly, so here is my yellowish page with swirls:

Tomorrow's challenge is 'Bible page 1098'